Le Morte d'Arthur BOOK XIX CHAPTER I

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CHAPTER I

How Queen Guenever rode a-Maying with certain knights of
the Round Table and clad all in green.


SO it befell in the month of May, Queen Guenever called
unto her knights of the Table Round; and she gave them
warning that early upon the morrow she would ride a-Maying
into woods and fields beside Westminster.  And I
warn you that there be none of you but that he be well
horsed, and that ye all be clothed in green, outher in silk
outher in cloth; and I shall bring with me ten ladies, and
every knight shall have a lady behind him, and every
knight shall have a squire and two yeomen; and I will
that ye all be well horsed.  So they made them ready in
the freshest manner.  And these were the names of the
knights: Sir Kay le Seneschal, Sir Agravaine, Sir Brandiles,
Sir Sagramore le Desirous, Sir Dodinas le Savage, Sir
Ozanna le Cure Hardy, Sir Ladinas of the Forest Savage,
Sir Persant of Inde, Sir Ironside, that was called the Knight
of the Red Launds, and Sir Pelleas, the lover; and these
ten knights made them ready in the freshest manner to ride
with the queen.  And so upon the morn they took their
horses with the queen, and rode a-Maying in woods and
meadows as it pleased them, in great joy and delights; for
the queen had cast to have been again with King Arthur
at the furthest by ten of the clock, and so was that time
her purpose.

Then there was a knight that hight Meliagrance, and
he was son unto King Bagdemagus, and this knight had at
that time a castle of the gift of King Arthur within seven
mile of Westminster.  And this knight, Sir Meliagrance,
loved passing well Queen Guenever, and so had he done
long and many years.  And the book saith he had lain in
await for to steal away the queen, but evermore he forbare
for because of Sir Launcelot; for in no wise he would
meddle with the queen an Sir Launcelot were in her company,
outher else an he were near-hand her.  And that
time was such a custom, the queen rode never without a
great fellowship of men of arms about her, and they were
many good knights, and the most part were young men
that would have worship; and they were called the Queen's
Knights, and never in no battle, tournament, nor jousts,
they bare none of them no manner of knowledging of their
own arms, but plain white shields, and thereby they were
called the Queen's Knights.  And then when it happed
any of them to be of great worship by his noble deeds,
then at the next Feast of Pentecost, if there were any slain
or dead, as there was none year that there failed but some
were dead, then was there chosen in his stead that was
dead the most men of worship, that were called the Queen's
Knights.  And thus they came up all first, or they were
renowned men of worship, both Sir Launcelot and all the
remnant of them.

But this knight, Sir Meliagrance, had espied the queen
well and her purpose, and how Sir Launcelot was not with
her, and how she had no men of arms with her but the ten
noble knights all arrayed in green for Maying.  Then he
purveyed him a twenty men of arms and an hundred
archers for to destroy the queen and her knights, for he
thought that time was best season to take the queen.